University of Washington faculty members Dr. Erica Cline, Dr. Marc Nahmani, Dr. Joyce Dinglasan-Panlilio, and Dr. Emily Cilli-Turner were awarded an exceptional NSF S-Stem Grant just under $650,000 and extends 5 years, starting April 1, 2018.
The title of the grant is "Achieving Change in our Communities for Equity and Student Success (ACCESS) in STEM" and the abstract is below:
"Achieving Change in our Communities for Equity and Student Success (ACCESS) in STEM" project is a five year effort at the University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) to 1) recruit talented, low-income students to STEM degrees, 2) retain those students and support their academic success, and 3) to empower them to become change agents in the academic community and the workplace through a focus on race and equity. UWT is a four year, public, urban, predominantly undergraduate institution (PUI), 49% Pell Grant eligible, 57% first generation in college, and 28% underrepresented minority students. After entering a STEM major, our students have high retention and graduation rates; however, we lose 27% of our first time in college students before they complete their first year and are able to enter a STEM major, and an additional 14% in their second year. Therefore, the ACCESS program will provide targeted support during the crucial first two years, through annual scholarships of $5417/yr for three cohorts of twelve incoming freshmen per year, from Environmental Science, Mathematics, Computer Science and Systems, and for non pre-health students in the Biomedical Sciences major. The students will engage in a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) in spring of their first year. To form a cohesive learning community, scholars will meet in UW Tacoma Empowered Action Meetings (TEAMS), which will consist of group and one-on-one faculty mentoring, skills workshops, and a focus group on race and equity in STEM. The TEAMS will raise awareness of stereotype threat and identity threat, providing an intervention that will minimize the achievement gap for stereotyped groups. This will help students to develop a sense of community, identity, and empowerment to transform the culture of STEM. Our recruitment efforts will target high schools in the Tacoma area, where 63% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch and 49% are underrepresented minorities. Selection will be based on high school GPA, SAT or ACT score, Pell Grant eligible FAFSA score, and a personal essay establishing intention to pursue an S-STEM eligible career. We will assess the effectiveness of the program using entry and exit surveys, and will track retention, student success, graduation rate, and career and post-graduate success of REACH scholars vs. a comparison group. We will use the Multicultural Awareness Knowledge and Skills Survey to assess the program’s impact on students' attitudes and awareness of race and equity. We hypothesize that by adding early research, strong learning communities, and race and equity interventions to our existing active learning curriculum, first year science and math retention will increase significantly for student participants vs. the comparison group, with corresponding increases in sense of identity and belonging in STEM.